Reading charts and graphs in English

charts and graphs

Let’s learn some vocabulary to talk about charts and graphs.


chart – an image that shows information in a clear way
graph – a chart that shows a trend
diagram – an image that shows how something works, or the way things interrelate.
trend – a tendency, or general direction of something
rate – quantity, amount or degree (rate of speed/change)
data – facts that can be analyzed (a single data point)
amount – quantity or the total sum
feature – a part or characteristic of something
peak – the uppermost point


to be steady – to not change in a significant way
to increase/rise/grow – to become greater or larger
to decrease/decline/drop – to become less or smaller
to spike – to go up suddenly
to dip – to go down and then back up
to plunge – to drop suddenly and significantly
to fluctuate -go up and down

to highlight – to emphasize or bring attention to something
to feature – to show

Can you pronounce the Past Simple form of the regular verbs?
Try the quiz!

Adjectives and adverbs:

significant – important or noteworthy
insignificant – not important or noteworthy
steady – consistent
outstanding – noticeable or conspicuous
upward – moving towards something higher or larger
downward – moving towards something lower or smaller
in a row – consecutively

Vocabulary Practice – Use the vocabulary words to talk about the chart:

Suggested conversation questions:
1.) Describe the chart.
2.) What is the chart describing?
3.) Do you notice any upward trends?
4.) Do you notice any downward trends?
5.) Was there a spike of earnings in March?
6.) Did Lucy’s earnings increase three months in a row?
7.) What happened in April?
8.) Is the company making or losing money by the end of this report?

Practice Exercise 1

1.) Do an Internet image search for ‘interesting statistics chart’.
2.) Select a chart that interests you.
3.) Set a timer. You have 20 minutes to complete this task.
4.) Write an essay of around 150 words.

Structure your essay into four paragraphs:

Introduction – In this report I am going to summarize my finding of a graph. When possible, include the type of graph, the title, the date, and the topic.

Paragraph 2 – Describe what the graph is representing and why it is relevant. What trend or comparison does it highlight?

Paragraph 3 – Talk about something significant that you notice. Use specific numerical details. Don’t forget to add the value terms, like ‘dollars’, or ‘degrees’.

Conclusion – Finish with a brief closing to round out your essay.

Practice Exercise 2Renewable Energy